Review: "I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings"

After a nerve-wracking cliffhanger, Young Justice: Phantoms concludes its second arc with its eighth episode, “I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings”. An incredible fight sequence, heartbreaking familial drama, and more flashbacks to round out this very emotional arc, leaving plenty of loose ends to be explored as the season progresses. If you haven’t watched the episode yet, we’d advise to keep a box of tissues nearby— you’re going to need it. 

“I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings” immediately kicks off with a familiar scene from Season One: Artemis and Cheshire’s confrontation at the end of ‘Infiltrator’. It perfectly sets up the expectations that this episode is going to hurt. The scene cuts to the present, launching us right into the intense confrontation between the Shadows, Tigress, Cheshire, Onyx and Orphan. However, Orphan needs time to get out of her locks, so it’s up to Artemis to stall Lady Shiva and her assassins. Through this stalling tactic, we learn that Onyx was set up with false information by Lady Shiva and Cassandra Savage, using it as a test of loyalty to the cause. Obviously, she failed, and set off their plan perfectly to acquire League intel and bring Orphan back to the Shadows. 

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What follows is arguably one of the best fight scenes ever done on Young Justice. When Orphan breaks free, she shuts off the power, leading to an immersive, intense battle taking place entirely in the dark. There’s some blood spilled, but it’s not nearly as gory as anything from Outsiders. The fight comes to a head when Shiva stabs Artemis in the leg and the lights are turned back on, leaving Tigress and her team surrounded with no option but surrender. However, here’s where the unexpected help comes into play. Shade pulls through and transports Tigress’ team (and a couple of poor Shadow assassin trainees) out of of the facility and to the beach of Santa Prisca, but not before Lady Shiva jumps in his shadow portal after them, slaughtering the trainees as she exits. RIP to them. 

Meanwhile, in the B-story, we spend a much-less stressful time on the Kent family farm. Lois, Clark, little Jonny and Wolf spend time with Ma and Pa Kent. But just in case you thought you could relax in the sweetness of it all, fear not— it’s secretly heartbreaking! Jon is confused as to the concept of death and Uncle Conner’s absence, leading Clark and Lois to explain it to him. Clark feels guilty that he wasn’t able to save Conner, but Lois reminds him that it might have come at the cost of his own life, an important reminder that it’s not always possible to save everyone and that everything happens for a reason. 

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Back with Artemis, Shade announces his debt to Cheshire is now paid, to which she agrees. Lady Shiva obviously is livid with this outcome, but Shade doesn’t pay any mind and declares he is now a freelancer and a part of no organization. Good for him, I think. With New Genesphere protecting Artemis’ squad from further harm at the hands of Lady Shiva, Cheshire instructs Onyx and Orphan to take Artemis aboard and dress her wound. Lady Shiva isn’t leaving without her daughter, though. She taunts Orphan and threatens Barbara’s life, pushing Orphan to a breaking point and leading to a fight between mother and daughter. She stabs Lady Shiva deep in the gut, but thanks to Barbara’s insistence, is unable to deliver the final blow. Thus the team leaves, with Lady Shiva bellowing in rage as she’s left behind without her daughter.

We launch into another flashback, the end of Artemis and Cheshire’s encounter in ‘Infiltrator’, followed by two new flashbacks in the aftermath. Jade tells Sensei about meeting her sister, and Sensei implores her to recruit Artemis into the Shadows. Meanwhile, Artemis rages against her sister’s decisions to their mother, Paula, and we receive some much-needed insight as to Paula’s role in the girls’ childhood and the problems lurking at Jade’s core. 

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Artemis and her team take refuge at a safe house in Key West, where Jade patches up her leg. In a truly heartbreaking moment, she agrees to let Artemis call Will and Lian and for one moment, it seems like everything is great and happy and that she’s going home. Except, you know, this is Young Justice. Nothing is ever that simple or easy. After seeing Lian make a Cheshire cat ‘Mommy mask’, Jade recoils in panic and flees the safehouse, effectively crushing my heart. We were SO close, y’all. So close. 

Thanks to Barbara tagging Jade, Artemis and Co. are able to get on route to track her to Infinity Island. In a rash turn of events, Jade attempts to go back and end her life via Sensei’s hands. Luckily, Artemis stops her, and the two have a very emotional confrontation, the one that’s been building up this entire arc. Here’s where you’ll need most of your tissues, y’all. As Jade insists that she’s too far gone to go back to her family, Artemis insists she can be helped. In an odd turn of events, Ra’s al Ghul and Sensei offer both Jade and Onyx a space on Infinity Island so they can rehabilitate and heal from their past trauma. In an even odder turn of events, Artemis agrees to this arrangement, confident that her sister is on a genuine path to healing. 

The true standout of this episode was the incredible fight scene in the dark on Santa Prisca. A huge shout out to the entire art and animation team for how well done it looked. Between all the cool glow-in the dark colors, the intensity, the sheer terror of not knowing what was going to happen, this fight would definitely make our ‘top 5’ list for epic battles on the show. Shout out to the Cass and Lady Shiva moment of the fight for truly being brilliantly animated, and also the moment of pure fear when Jade realizes Artemis is injured. 

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However, we did feel that other than the fight scene, the majority of this episode suffered from an overwhelming amount of expositional dialogue. There were three different scenes where it felt like exposition and background were just being explained to us by the characters, and while we don’t mind exposition when needed, much of this felt like information we already knew or could have gleaned from using context clues. There were also several instances where characters who weren’t directly engaged in the conversation were just standing around, and it felt awkward. 

Additionally, we were confused as to the end of the arc, why Jade and Onyx remained on Infinity Island, and why Artemis was so okay with it. Prior to this episode, we’ve received no real indication of what the Al Ghul’s true motives are, and we are unsure just exactly what kind of rehabilitation both Onyx and Jade expect to get with them. Granted, there are so many layers to this last scene that we’re still analyzing, and it does feel like a loose end that will be explored throughout the season, so we won’t say too much about it now. 

In regards to the conclusion of several character arcs, on the whole, they were done well. Jade’s emotional confrontation with Artemis was done brilliantly, and seeing her genuinely want to take steps to put herself on the path to redemption felt like the right choice. Time will tell if she will actually heal on Infinity Island (or if Ra’s and Talia have other, more sinister intentions in mind) and return home to her family, but as of now, odds are looking good. We wish Onyx would have had a more prominent role in this conclusion, and we’re admittedly sad to bid goodbye to her (for now), as we’ve truly warmed our hearts to her. 

As for the B-story, we have mixed feelings. On the one hand, we do appreciate that Young Justice is taking the time to wallow in the grief of Conner’s loss, something that felt missing with Wally’s ceasing. We like how this season is exploring the effects of his death on other people, making it truly feel like a bigger and fuller world. On the other hand, we still don’t believe that Conner is truly dead, and if he isn’t, spending this much time on the grief surrounding his disappearance won’t age well. Of course, only time will tell as to whether or not he is alive, and we’ll just have to wait and see. 

“I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings” felt like it could have used more time and fleshing out to really feel like a satisfying conclusion to this arc. While we did enjoy the B-stories following up on the previous arc, with more characters to juggle, we would have liked to see less time spent on the B-stories and more focus on the plot at hand. At times, it felt like the conclusion to this arc was rushed and could have benefitted from a slower pace. That isn’t to say we didn’t enjoy it, because we did, and we’re sure every arc will have its pros and cons. Additionally, if the previous arc is anything to go off of, we’re sure to see the aftermath of Artemis, Jade, Onyx, and more throughout the rest of the season. At least, we hope so. It would be a crime not to see more Bowhunter Security pop up, after all!

With the conclusion of Artemis’ story, we are excited to head into Zatanna’s arc with her many proteges. Will we see her grapple with Doctor Fate? Who exactly are her proteges? We’ll start getting answers next week!

What did you think of “I Know Why the Caged Cat Sings”? Hurting for Jade? Excited to see Jason, we mean, the Red Hooded Ninja again? Desperately hoping that everyone ends up happy and okay? Let us know in the comments, our forums, or on our Twitter!

Ariel Horn
Author: Ariel HornWebsite: https://youngjustice.tvEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Lead Writer
About the Author
Ariel is's lead writer. She has been obsessed with the show since its early days, and looks forward to cover this exciting new season with everyone. May hope burn bright!

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